Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hurricane Irene

Hurricane Irene came through overnight. My family evacuated, as we live 4 blocks from the water. However, our neighborhood seems to have fared well. We hope to return tonight, and I'm curious to see what a Category 1 Hurricane did to my little garden.

Of course, the day we prepped our yard for the storm, we discovered peppers for the first time.

A lot of the surrounding towns, not to mention much of the state and entire eastern seaboard, are experiencing massive flooding. I'm thankful that my family is safe, and it's a nice bonus that I still have a house to go home to.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

CSA - Week 12

Last week, we had a lot of rain in the area and the farm experienced some flooding. Because of that, they decided to cancel that week's CSA delivery and extend the season further into November. We were able to receive the CSA delivery this week without issue, just in time for Hurricane Irene.

I will have to add weights another time, as I have evacuated in preparation for the storm.

Sweet Frying Peppers

Friday, August 12, 2011

CSA - Week 11

Such a colorful CSA box this week!

Potatoes - almost 2 pounds (5 potatoes)
Sweet Frying Peppers - over a pound and a half (7)
Red Onion - one pound (6)
Yellow Squash - over 2 1/2 pounds
Roma Tomatoes - 1 3/4 pounds (10)

I haven't cooked with any of it yet because I was out all day Thursday and Friday. I just bought a bag of potatoes the other day, but since they'll last a while, that's okay. I need to use the tomatoes ASAP, but I don't like raw tomatoes much. Sunday is looking like a rainy day, so that would be a great day for cooking.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Vegetables do, in fact, grow from seeds.

Go figure!

After a few months of just kind of waiting it out and learning from my mistakes, I may actually have something here. If I can manage to keep them alive for a little longer, I will have at least one tomato and at least one cucumber. This makes me happy! As I've said, this was a learning experience, and I will not be angry or terribly upset if I don't yield much of anything this growing season, but I will definitely be extremely psyched if I do!

We were on vacation for the past week, and my wonderful neighbor watered my garden while we were gone. She also snagged my CSA delivery from my porch and kept it indoors for me. In return, I asked that she please help herself to anything in the box that looks good! She had the caneteloupe and basil. I am so glad she had the basil since my garden actually is producing a boatload of basil. Week 10 also consisted of tomatoes, red onions, and a head of cabbage.

So anyway, my neighbor warned me that she does not have a green thumb but would definitely get the garden watered. Well, she's my good luck charm. Check it out!!

Friday, July 29, 2011

CSA - Week 9

This week, we received the largest zucchini I've ever seen in my life. They're the size of my forearm.

Zucchini (2) - over FIVE pounds
Eggplant (3) - nearly 3 pounds
Corn on the Cob (8) - 6 1/2 pounds
Red Potatoes (6) - almost 1 1/2 pounds
Cilantro - 5.4 ounces

With the zucchini, my mom will make zucchini bread for the whole family. I plan to make breakfast potatoes with the red potatoes, throw the cilantro in with some salsa, guacamole, and rice & beans, and grill the eggplant. We have a great week ahead of us!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Zucchini and Compost and Buggies, Oh My!

It's "clean out the fridge" week here at A4S Headquarters. Along with the White Bean & Cabbage recipe I posted in the previous post, I also made Zucchini Pancakes. I thought it would be a weird combination, but it didn't really matter to me. It turns out, since both recipes were seasoned with thyme, they kind of tied together nicely. I am sure it's been said before, but Z boy will eat anything if it's made into a pancake.

  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon minced fresh thyme or oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more if needed

  • 1. Shred the zucchini and onion on the large holes of a box grater or in a food processor with the shredding disk. Place the shredded vegetables in a colander in the sink and sprinkle with the salt. Toss to combine. Let drain for 30 minutes, then pick up by the handful and squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Place on a kitchen towel or double layer of paper towels.

  • 2. In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, garlic, cheese, herbs, lemon zest, and pepper. Beat well with a fork. Add the drained zucchini mixture and mix together. Sprinkle the flour and baking powder on top and mix with a fork just until well combined.

  • 3. Heat one tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat in a wide, heavy pan. When the oil is hot, drop the batter into the pan by heaping tablespoonful. Cook for about three minutes on the first side, until nicely browned. Flip and cook for about two minutes more. Place the cooked pancakes on a paper towel-lined plate and repeat with the remaining oil and batter. Serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt, sour cream, tzatziki or applesauce.

I love sour cream, but didn't have any on hand, so I just added some lemon juice to plain Greek yogurt and called it a day. It was a nice topping for them, I thought. I also think it would be yummy to put both sour cream and applesauce on them, as I do with potato pancakes.

I also wanted to mention a website that my husband found for me that acts as a sort of database for recipes found on different blogs and such. It's cool because you can type in the ingredients you have on hand and get ideas. You can quickly see the ingredients required so you know whether to bother clicking on the link, so once I saw a recipe that included cabbage and other ingredients that I had, I was in business. That's how I found that recipe. The other cool thing is that you can also list foods that you do not like, and it won't include recipes containing those. So, while I can't choose "vegetarian," I can at least say I don't want recipes with beef, pork, chicken, et al. Check it out!

Composting has been going pretty well. Mr. A4S actually kind of took that baby in and made it his own. He's growing tired of the setup, however, because we end up with SO MANY food scraps now that we've increased our fruit and veggie consumption. We were eyeing a tumbler at BJ's Wholesale Club in the beginning of the season, but wanted to make sure it was a solid investment and something we would keep up with. We decided to go see if they still had any in stock, and they did...for $20 less than they were a couple months ago. Hopefully it will make his life a lot easier, because he's a huge help! It should also get us more compost in less time, which will be nice as we try to expand the garden.

Thanks to a friend of mine with several years of gardening experience under her belt, I purchased neem oil to keep my garden organic, but work on the bug problem. What a lifesaver! I noticed the change immediately and I'm so grateful to have someone to help with these problems! Unfortunately, she's now having groundhog problems in her garden, so I'm sad for her.

It's been very hot, so my lettuce is done for now, and I'll plant more in the Fall. I had some great salads with it, though! And I was lucky enough to receive canning supplies for my birthday, so I can start working toward my canning goal as well. I hope to make fruit preserves and tons of basil pesto!

CSA - Week 8

Corn is here! And I have never had more delicious corn on the cob in my entire life. I'm a boiler. I decided to try grilling corn this year, but it always storms when I have fresh corn and I'd rather eat it fresh! I also found out through some Googling that I boil my corn way longer than the average bear. It's a solid 17 minutes or so. The corn from Earthen Harvest was just so creamy and perfect!

Corn on the Cob - just over 5 pounds (6 ears)
Red Potatoes - 2 pounds
Cabbage - 5 1/2 pound head
Kohlrabi - almost a pound
Collards - just under a pound

I gave all of the kohlrabi to my mom since I kept it all last time we got it. I sauteed some leftover CSA yellow scallions along with a clove of minced garlic in olive oil and added the collards once those were soft. That was a great simple side dish (a go-to for greens you don't have other plans for) along side my red potato baked "fries," corn on the cob, and a veggie burger. I cut the corn off of the cob for my bigger mini and she wanted more, more, more!

I used the following recipe for the cabbage and I really enjoyed it! Again, big mini was a fan. She likes coleslaw, so she lovingly referred to this recipe as "a different kind of coleslaw." Hey, if it gets her to eat it, I'm cool with that.

white beans and cabbage

Servings: 4-6 Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 10 minutes

Adapted from Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces potatoes, scrubbed and cut into tiny cubes
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme)
1/2 onion, minced
One 15-ounce can white beans, rinsed and drained
3 cups (8 ounces) very finely shredded green cabbage
fine-grain sea salt


1. Pour the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the potatoes and spread them evenly in the pan. Cook the potatoes for 5 minutes or so, make sure you scrape and toss the potatoes during cooking so that you can get each side browned and cooked through.

2. Add in the fresh thyme, onion and the white beans and spread all around the skillet. Let cook, undisturbed for 2 minutes to brown just a bit, then scrape and toss again. Cook until the beans are nicely browned on both sides.

3. Stir in the cabbage and cook for another minute. Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir and toss again. Once the cabbage has wilted down, the dish is ready.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

CSA - Week 7

After a few hot and humid days, it was so nice to go out on my porch this morning to grab the CSA box and feel chilly! It was a nice start to a food-centered day. In between games of Uno Moo, Bingo, and soccer, I did my menu plan and shopping list for the week. I used to do all of that on the weekend, but if my produce is fresh on Thursday morning, I want to eat it ASAP, and don't know until Wednesday night what's in the box. The local grocery stores I have tried have a pretty sorry health food selection. Well, I shouldn't say that. Stop & Shop's is actually pretty good, but there a few key items that they're missing. My local health food store is overpriced, but can get away with it since they're the only one (that I know of) in the area.

Since my mom and I share the CSA and we needed to meet up today anyhow, I decided to go to Wegman's, which we do not have where I live. I was in heaven. I miss Wegman's. We also went to her local health food store where they had our favorite organic bread on sale for $2.99 instead of $4.79. We also got Apple/Beet/Carrot juice from the juice bar, and I was inspired to bring my juicer out of storage, which I'll do this weekend. I love my juicer, but go through phases with it, just because it's one more thing taking up counter space.

The only negative in an otherwise wonderful day (I even took a nap!) was that little dude got said beet juice on his favorite soccer ball shirt. Laundry results are pending.

So, what's in the box?

Zucchini - just over 2 1/2 pounds (6 of them)
Cucumbers - just over 2 1/2 pounds (3 of them)
Red Potatoes - about 2 pounds (6 of them)
Yellow Scallions - 6 ounces
Kale - 1 pound
Collard Greens - 1 pound

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

CSA - Week 6

I'm still here. A lot of fun happens in the summer and I have fallen behind. Since I will receive the Week 7 delivery tomorrow night, I guess this is my last chance to write about Week 6. Because of storms, they were unable to harvest kale last week, so we will receive a larger veggie share in this week's box.

Cabbage - 4 pounds
Yellow Scallions - just over 1/2 pound
Beets - approx. 3 pounds
Cucumbers - 2 1/2 pounds

Again, I forgot to take a picture. We went on an outing that day and left pretty early, so everything was a little off.

Last week, I had the entire cabbage for myself and I knew I wanted to make coleslaw. I decided on Bobby Flay's recipe, and it was really good. It was even better the second day, and my daughter ate it up! If you're looking for a good vegan coleslaw recipe, I recommend the recipe found in Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. The recipe can be found here, but I really recommend the book! Of course, if you're using fresh cabbage instead of coleslaw mix, you'll also need to add shredded carrots. You can even throw some radish in if you're feeling funky, or anything crunchy, really! I'd bet kohlrabi would be really good in there also.

Speaking of kohlrabi, here is what I did with this newfound love:

1. Cut off kohlrabi bulbs.
2. Peel bulbs with a knife. A peeler will most likely not do the job.
3. Slice, then cut into half-moons.
4. Toss around with a minced clove of garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
5. Bake at 450 for about 10 minutes, flip, bake another 5, top with Parmesan cheese, and bake another 5.

I really wish I didn't love cheese as much as I do.

Another option is to just do this:
(image courtesy of

Thursday, June 30, 2011

CSA - Week 5

I love my CSA. Here we are at Week 5 of 26 and I feel like it's only getting better and more exciting. Even though I was really psyched to have beets for two weeks and snap peas for one, I'm okay with them being left out of this week's box. That's the whole point, after all. I'm trying new things and this week is no exception.

Yellow Scallions - 3/4 lb.
Baby Collard Greens - 3/4 lb.
Cabbage - 2 3/4 lb. (1 head)
Kohlrabi - over 2 1/2 lb.
Mizuna - under 1/2 lb.

I have been a vegetarian for about half of my life. I will be the first to admit that for the first couple years, i was doing it all wrong, as many do when they first start out. Here I am nearly 15 years later and I'm still discovering new vegetables. The first I heard of kohlrabi was last night, and then it showed up on my doorstep a few hours later. I feel like that must have some kind of significance, but since I can't play kohlrabi in the lottery, I'll just go ahead and hope that it's tasty.

The cabbage came at a good time because I can make a nice fresh coleslaw for the 4th of July since I already have organic carrots on hand. I also plan to do something different with mizuna since I've repeatedly made the same dish since discovering the green a few weeks ago. I have leftover spinach from the Italian Wedding Soup, so I'm thinking of making this, but with vegetable broth. My daughter picked out some organic whole wheat letter-shaped pasta and thinks "green sauce" is weirdly excellent, so I feel like that's a dinner waiting to happen.

Have a fun and safe holiday weekend! Yay America!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Garden Growth

I thinned out the cucumber plants because they were all growing like crazy and were going to kill each other. Now, one of the 4 I had left is injured and they also have some company. Squash Bugs. Sad Face. I was hoping that my organic garden would just avoid these types of problems all on their own, but I know that's not at all realistic. Bugs are just a part of the process, and I need to safely deal with it. I read that I could use organic pyrethrum, which is from chrysanthemums. I want to look into it more before going that route. Another option is making a soapy spray. Add 1 tablespoon of soap to a gallon of water and spray a fine mist on the leaves. The soap I use is all natural anyway, so I'm thinking that would be okay? Does anyone have experience with this? The bugs especially dislike peppermint, and I have organic tea tree and peppermint shampoo and wonder if that may also do the job. Aside from the research time, the major con of using the organic pyrethrum thus far would be the shipping time for it to get here.

Otherwise, though, the garden is looking great! One of the tomato plants is just a beast and I can't wait to make some pico! Canning is something else I plan to get into in the next year, but doubt I'll have the opportunity to preserve much this year. I don't expect the garden to produce much more than we can eat, but if it does, I have family members with whom I can share. The one exception may be basil, but that's so versatile that I doubt I'll have a problem with consumption.

Tomato Beast - 6/28/11 - Day 24 post-transplant - Day 53 from seed

Lettuce - 6/28/11 - Day 24

Basil - 6/28/11 - Day 24

I got to use my basil for the first time today! I met with some girlfriends for a vegan potluck and I made a vegan Italian wedding soup. Although the recipe didn't call for fresh basil, I felt the need to use it anyway, and it paid off.

Vegan Italian Wedding Soup
courtesy of Vegetarian Times

Serves 6

4 Tbs. olive oil, divided
1 medium white or yellow onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp.), plus 1 whole clove, peeled, divided
¾ cup diced carrot
¾ cup diced celery
1 Tbs. Simply Organic Oregano
1 Tbs. Simply Organic Basil Fresh basil from your amazing garden
1 Tbs. Simply Organic Parsley
6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
¾ cup ditalini pasta
1 pkg. vegan meatballs, defrosted (I used Nate's brand Italian flavored. Many brands are not vegan, but these are)
1 5-oz. pkg. fresh spinach
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

1. Heat 2 Tbs. olive oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and minced garlic; sauté 5 minutes, or until beginning to soften. Stir in carrot and celery, and cook 5 minutes more, or until onion is soft and just beginning to brown. Add oregano, basil, and parsley, and cook 1 minute. Stir in broth, and bring to a boil.

2. Reduce heat to medium, add ditalini, and cook at low boil 5 minutes, or half of cooking time stated in ditalini package directions. Add meatballs, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 10 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 Tbs. oil in skillet over medium heat. Add remaining garlic clove, and crush with wooden spoon in oil while heating. Add spinach; cook 3 to 5 minutes, turning constantly so spinach becomes evenly coated and wilted, but still bright green. After meatballs have simmered, add spinach and lemon juice to soup, and season with salt and pepper.

Monday, June 27, 2011

I am not a food blogger.

I know this because I rarely think to take pictures of my meals.

Today, I finally used the Swiss chard from last week. Ideally, I would have used it immediately when it was perfectly fresh, but I was out and about a lot over the past few days. I put about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in my wok and tossed in some sliced garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes. I then cooked the Swiss chard, which had been cleaned and chopped into ~1 inch pieces. I had already discarded most of the stems. Cook for about 5 minutes, flip over, and cook for another 5 minutes or so. If you need to add moisture, just throw in some water during cooking. That's it! It was really good!

I was given more produce by someone who is going on vacation, so I am excited to cook up a storm in the next few days. I have a lot of lime. Besides buying a case of Corona, what should I do with a bunch of limes?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

CSA - Week 4

This week's CSA box made me really happy. We got more beets, which I will touch on shortly, and the sugar snap peas and Swiss chard made their debut! Here is the rundown:

Swiss Chard - nearly 4 1/2 lbs.
Sugar Snap Peas - nearly 2 lbs.
Beets - 6 1/2 lbs.
Yellow Scallions - over 1/4 lb.
Mizuna - 3/4 lb.

I teased you with talk of pink pancakes last week when we first got beets. I made them this week, and they were a huge success. In fact, I need to double the recipe in the future. It's a good thing I now have frozen beet puree at the ready!

Pink Pancakes

3/4 cup water
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup beet puree (see below)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup pancake mix
1/4 cup grated apple
nonstick cooking spray
*1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
pure maple syrup or fruit, for serving

1. In a blender or food procesor, combine the water, ricotta cheese, beet puree, vanilla, and cinnamon and blend. Dump the mixture into a medium bowl, add the pancake mix and apple, and stir until just combined. Do not overmix - the batter will be a little lumpy.

2. Coat a griddle or large nonstick killet with cooking spray and set it over medium-high heat. When hot, add the oil*. Spoon the batter onto the griddle or skillet, using about 1/4 cup batter for each pancake. Cook the pancakes until bubbles form on top and the batter i set, 1 to 2 minutes. Then flip the pancakes with a spatula and cook until golden brown on the other side, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve warm, with syrup or fruit.

Mine were slightly undercooked, but since there was no egg, I wasn't concerned. First my griddle wasn't hot enough, and then it got too hot. We'll get it just right tomorrow...I mean, um, next time I make them whenever that might be.

*I did not use oil
Courtesy of Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld

How to make perfect beet puree:
1. cut the greens off of the beet leaving about 1 inch.
2. wrap in foil.
3. roast in a 400 degree oven for about an hour.
4. refrigerate just long enough that you luckily remember to puree them before they go bad.
5. remove from fridge.
6. peel skin off and cube.
7. frantically search for blender lid so you don't end up with a pink kitchen.
8. blend, taking a break every 5 seconds to stir beet mixture and dream about this.

I scrambled up a couple of eggs and we were all happy. My son would eat anything, as long as it looked like a pancake. As I said, I'm not generally a fan of hiding fruits and veggies just to get your child to eat them. However, since my kids are luckily pretty good about it, I don't see the harm in making recipes like this to give them even more. Plus, since they are always helping me in the kitchen, they know exactly what they're eating. Well, they sort of know. Z calls beets "boots," so he may be chewing on his shoes a little more tomorrow. We'll play that by ear.

Monday, June 20, 2011

It's Just Toilet Paper

My desire to have my own vegetable garden is what started me on this road. Interestingly enough, it now seems like that's the least productive aspect of what I'm doing. I know that I planted late, so I can't expect overnight results, and I'm okay with that. I'm annoyed that my peas were looking so great for a week or two and then just died one day, seemingly out of nowhere. I haven't been using anything on my plants except for water, and I now realize that's not enough. Through research, I'm realizing that I need some organic fertilizer to feed them, and I'm making that my mission for this week. I have a compost bin, but nothing's ready to go yet, so I can't use that to feed my soil at the moment.

I tasted a tiny piece of lettuce and it was good! The basil smells like basil and the cilantro smells like cilantro. I love to rub a leaf of the tomato plant between my fingers and smell the tomato scent. Soon enough, I'll be making my own tomato sauce and pico de gallo, and it will have all been worth it.

I plan to weed tomorrow, though the weeds are all outside of the bags anyway. I guess it's pretty funny that I'm concerned about the weeds making my garden area look ugly, but meanwhile my garden is a bunch of bags on the ground.

I never did update you on the Seventh Generation toilet paper and that's because there's not really much to say. It's just toilet paper. But I think considering how much better it is for our environment, it's a smarter choice for my family. I'm also very pleased with their powder laundry detergent, and I only use the cold cycle. I have had zero problems in that department and hope to try my hand at making my own detergent soon.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

CSA - Week 3

Well, poo.

I forgot to take a picture of my CSA box today before I divided it up and sent half with my mom.

Here's what was waiting for me today!

French Breakfast Radishes - just under a pound
Mizuna - 1 lb.
Kale - 1 1/4 lb.
Mustard Greens - 1 3/4 lb
Beets - 3 lbs (6 beets)

I am WAY excited about the beets. While I generally think that hiding vegetables in your kids' food in order to get them to eat them is a bad idea, and that they should just learn to enjoy actual vegetables, there are some pretty yummy recipes in Jessica Seinfeld's book Deceptively Delicious. I'm talking about you, pink pancakes. And I will see you this weekend.

For my first mizuna experience, I made a dish that was featured in the farm's newsletter. I replaced the soba noodles with spaghetti, since that's what I had on hand. I also replaced the 4 green onions with 2 yellow scallions, since those were in last week's CSA box and I hadn't used them yet.

2 cups mizuna leaves, washed, stemmed, and chopped
2 carrots, sliced diagonally
4 thinly sliced scallions
1/2 cup thinly sliced radishes
2 cups cooked soba noodles
1 T toasted sesame oil
1 tsp ground ginger
1 clove minced garlic (I actually sliced mine because apparently I didn't read the recipe well while throwing it together. Honestly, I think i'd slice it again. I think that I would be so bold as to edit my recipe doc and save it.)
2T soy sauce (I use low-sodium tamari.)
2T sesame seeds

Bowl 1: mizuna, carrots, scallions, radishes, and noodles (which I cooked, drained, and placed into cold water to cool off quickly)

Bowl 2: garlic, ginger, oil, soy sauce

Whisk the contents of bowl 2, add to bowl 1, top with sesame seeds, mix, devour.

I am a HUGE fan. Mister A4S was a fan. It wasn't what he ate as his meal, but that's only because of the fact that there were leftovers that needed to be eaten. O, the 3 year old with an "I ATE MY GREENS!" certificate framed on her bedroom wall, loved it. Z, the one who generally will eat anything, but is way too stubborn for spaghetti, really thinks we need to start buying different types of pasta. Once I mentioned that I was sitting "criss-cross apple sauce," he suddenly wanted something else to eat.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

CSA - Week 2

Since it has been so hot, and was still really hot overnight last night, I set my alarm for 2am so I could go grab the produce from the hot porch and keep it cool. The box was completely full, which surprised me after the heat wave we had.

Unfortunately, there will be no more arugula this Spring, since the heat caused it to flower. No arugula goat cheese pizza for me!

(Un)fortunately, we did get two huge bundles of mustard greens, so my mom and I each get a whole one. I have yet to cook them in a way that I like, but I am determined to keep trying! If I can get my kids to eat them, I'll be both thrilled and shocked. Keep in mind that I do share this with my mom, so I keep half of what is listed and pictured. Here is the breakdown:

French Breakfast Radish - 1 lb 2.8 oz
Purple-Top Turnips - 1 lb 12.8 oz
Yellow Scallions - 6.2 oz (4 scallions)
Mustard Greens - 2 lb 6.9 oz
Mizuna - 14.4 oz

Recipes to follow!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

It's hot.

Really hot.

So, as you know, I'm new at this gardening thing, and I mostly had to sow directly into the soil without seedlings due to time constraints. Now we have apparently skipped the rest of June and all of July, and it's August. The leaves of my pea plants are completely dried up. Sad. Maybe that's normal, but I wouldn't know. I've done some poking around online, and I've read conflicting things. "Make sure you water your peas a lot." or "Hey, don't you dare over water your peas!!!! AHHHH!" If you have any feedback on the issue, by all means, let me know. I can't post a picture right now because there's a major thunderstorm heading our way and it just got super dark. Mr. Aiming for Sustaining did tell me that the cucumbers decided to show themselves today, so that's exciting!

Because of the heat, my CSA was delayed twice this week, and understandably so. It was 105-110 degrees with the heat index at the farm yesterday and today. I'm not sure what will be in it yet, but I would be psyched if there was more arugula so I can use that and the rest of my goat cheese and make a nice pizza. I'm thinking this, but with a homemade whole wheat crust.

I look forward to my next blog entry when it's in the 70's. I think I'll need a sweater.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Home Sweet Home

Today was a great day. I woke up in NYC and closed out the day in my suburban garden. We finally got almost everything planted. As I've said before, life got in the way of planting earlier in the season, so I'm just doing it when I can. It's a learning process, and if my plants produce, they produce. If they don't, I try again next year knowing more than I do now. We planted herbs and lettuces, and transplanted our tomato seedlings. We also sowed pepper seeds hoping that they take. The seedlings didn't take at all, so I'm not really sure what's going on there.

I sauteéd mustard greens from the CSA Week 1 box the other day, and I was not impressed. None of us were. I still have some and will try cooking them another way tomorrow. I'm sure I would enjoy this recipe (minus the mushrooms), but I'd rather try to find a way to enjoy mustard greens in a more healthful manner. I made arugula pesto on whole wheat thin spaghetti tonight, and it got a rating of 3 out of 4. The little guy wasn't impressed, but he is old enough to want to feed himself, and too young to grasp the concept of long thin noodles, so I'm hopeful.

And as promised, a cute kid with garden tools:

Friday, June 3, 2011

CSA - Week 1

I got my first CSA delivery last night! I purchased a share from an organic NJ farm and I am splitting it with my mom this year to see how it goes. Normally, these posts will be done on Thursdays, but I got my delivery a day late this week because of thunderstorms on my normal day.

1 1/2 lbs. Mustard Greens
3/4 lb. French Breakfast Radishes
1/2 lb. Yellow Scallions
1 1/2 lb. Arugula
1 1/2 lb. Purple Top Turnips

I am very excited to dig for new recipes and cook with vegetables I've never purchased! The yellow scallions, in particular, smell ridiculously amazing. I feel a great sense of pride knowing that the vegetables I will feed my family tonight were just picked yesterday 14 miles away.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Disappointed: Update

So, last week I was pretty annoyed that all of my purchases came individually wrapped in plastic. I got an automated email yesterday asking me to provide feedback about my shopping experience. I kindly mentioned my concern about the packaging. Within a few hours, I received the following email:

Dear Kimberly,

Thank you for taking the time to complete our customer survey. We at understand your concerns and strive to provide an array of eco friendly products as well as the greenest shipping methods possible . We do use plastic wrap and air bags in our shipping cartons in an effort to minimize damage which would utlimately result in waste of product and necessitate the use of additional resources to generate replacement orders. Please rest assured that all of the plastic used inside of our shipping cartons is 100% recyclable. We thank you again for your feedback and welcome any suggestions you may have that would help us be more eco-friendly in the future.

Take care,

Jennifer Cintron

Customer Care

So that's nice. They have good customer service and stuff. Cool. Here's the tough thing, though. It's not as simple as just throwing all your "recyclables" in your can and putting it at the street on recycling day. Not every municipality or private waste management company will recycle everything. Now, I no longer have that stuff that I complained about, because I didn't realize at all that it was even possibly recyclable, so I don't know what number was on it. However, for you, my lovely caring reader, please be sure to check out Earth 911 to see where you can recycle specific products.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Lavender Pine & Chocolate

My husband wants to bathe in the Caldrea lavender pine stainless steel spray. BATHE, I say! It really does smell good, so I can't judge. It's amazing how good the house smells after a cleaning. It doesn't smell like chemicals. It just smells good. What's even better, though, is that the spray works incredibly well on our dishwasher and on our cabinet hardware. We also used the Seventh Generation all purpose cleanser on our white painted kitchen cabinets. It worked really well and made us realize how dirty they really were. I think we kind of just started to assume we had painted them off-white instead of white.

The Seventh Generation free & clear powder laundry detergent from Amazon is also a hit. The clothes are always clean and they feel really soft. The Ecover stain remover is currently being tested thanks to a desperate attempt at calming down my son at a crowded amusement park on a 95 degree day. The chocolate may have been refrigerated when I gave it to him, but it was dripping out of his chipmunk mouth and down his white shirt quicker than he could mumble the word "MORE."

I started training for my next triathlon, so that's another time sucker. Maybe I shouldn't call school and exercise time suckers? Oh well.

I hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


As I mentioned last week, I plan on ultimately making some of my own household cleaners. Until then, I'm just looking to buy greener replacements for the standard cleaners. I wanted to try some of the Ecover brand cleaning products, but the only place I've seen the products in person is WholeFoods, which is about 45 minutes away. Since I have a Prime membership with Amazon and therefore get free shipping, it seemed like the cheapest route. However, since most were on backorder for four weeks, I placed an order on (sister site of instead. I loved everything about the shopping experience, and they shipped within an hour of my order being placed. That happiness turned to disappointment today when I opened up the package to find that everything was individually wrapped in plastic. Between that and the plastic air pillows that were also in the box, my garbage can was now almost full. BUST. So, here's what I want to know. Does shrink wrap each item in plastic so that they don't leak in shipment? Because the ones at WholeFoods were not wrapped. Or does Ecover send them to WholeFoods wrapped in plastic, and WF unwraps them before placing them on the shelf? Deep thoughts, by KH.

I also purchased a cleaner for my brand spankin' new energy efficient stainless steel dishwasher. I had read that Mrs. Meyers brand had the best eco-friendly stainless cleaner. However, that was discontinued a few years ago, and Mrs. Meyers recommends Caldrea brand, which they apparently own. Once I move beyond the bummed-about-so-much-plastic feeling and actually use the products, I'll be sure to post a review! We also only have about two more rolls of our Scott's toilet paper left and then we get to use our new paper wrapped Seventh Generation stuff. There will not be pictures.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Replacement Rules

As we run out of things around the house, I am trying to make an effort to find a better replacement before just going out and purchasing more of what we ran out of. For example, we only have a few rolls of our wholesale club sized paper towels left. I really don't want to continue using paper towels in excess, so I bought a 10-pack of microfiber towels instead. So far, the issue I have with them is that they can't be put in a dryer with dryer sheets. We have a dryer bar stuck to the inside of our dryer, and one of my self-imposed "rules" in this whole project is that I won't throw something out just to purchase a better replacement. I already spent the money on it. I think I can take the bar out and just dry those towels by themselves, but why not just air dry? That is on my agenda for today.

Speaking of laundry, I am almost out of our laundry detergent. We use ALL free & clear, so it's not that harsh to begin with, but I wanted to try something even better. While I have never used a powder detergent, I went ahead and ordered this from Amazon. I'm oddly looking forward to doing next week's laundry. (But only a little bit...N reads this blog and we don't want him getting the wrong idea now.)

I am also out of Ziploc sandwich bags, and while I try to use reusable Rubbermaid containers for a lot of things anyway, I definitely still use way too many Ziploc. I've been browsing and trying to decide on which reusable Ziploc-type bags I want to purchase. I'll update you when I make my final decision!

A couple of weeks ago, I bought Seventh Generation's bathroom cleaner and all-purpose cleaner. I didn't even know my grocery store sold them until I was on a specific mission to find them. They are on the side of the aisle opposite from the standard cleaners, and I just never looked over there before. I've been really pleased with the efficacy of both, and the bathroom smells like herbs after a good scrub as opposed to chemicals. You really can't beat it! And I feel better about putting those 2 cute hineys in that bathtub when I know it's not still covered in chemicals that didn't rinse off well enough.

In the future, I plan to try making my own cleaners, but for now, I really prefer these to the standard cleaners. They were about 30 cents more per bottle, which really isn't much.

Bag Garden

I am finished with school for the semester and I now feel like I can properly tend to my garden (and blog). Hooray! Since I'm brand new at the whole veggie garden thing, my timing was definitely horrendous, considering I had no seedlings going until two or three weeks ago. And even now, it's just tomatoes. 4 out of the 8 are looking good, though, so I obviously rock at growing stuff. I was planning on starting my cucumbers this past weekend, but since I scored a good deal on a dresser for my daughter on CraigsList, I spent the weekend sanding it down and getting a coat of paint on it. I like to think that by purchasing said dresser, I saved it from going in a landfill. Really, I just kept it from ending up in someone else's house, because that thing was beautiful and someone else would have snagged it if I wasn't a daily CL stalker.

So my "Easy Care Bag Garden" is all set up. It was touch and go for a while because of a mulch situation. Basically, we decided to mulch all around the bags with rubber mulch to be "eco-friendly." I mean, it says on the bags that it's eco-friendly, so it must be the smartest solution, amirite? It turns out that even though it saves tires from going into the landfill, you're now using TIRES to surround the vegetables you and your children are going to eat. TIRES! I'm not trying to eat the chemicals used to make tires. So my poor husband spent just as much time picking it all up as he did putting it all down. I must say, it looked gorgeous, but now it's just all in bags next to our shed. It was already purchased and it wasn't cheap, so we are thinking that the compromise will be to just use it as a decorative "patio" type area with some Adirondack chairs and planters. That way, there's nothing growing there that can be contaminated. We couldn't decide what to do instead around the garden bags, so I decided that instead of rushing into a decision, I'm going to just let it flow this summer and decide what I want to do for next year. We already plan on making raised garden beds for where each section of bags is. We'll decide if we want to surround the beds in grass or what.

I made my trellis for the peas, put in some stakes for the peppers, and the cages are all ready for my tomato seedlings if time would just fast forward. (Time, please don't really fast forward.) O planted all of the peas because she loves eating them and wanted to be a part of it.

To the left of the garden is a black garbage can. That's our current compost bin. We got the idea here and spent about $20 to get it done. So far, it's working great for us, but we definitely need at least one more, especially since our CSA delivery starts next week and we'll have even more produce scraps.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Garden in a Bag

While in Vermont a few weeks ago, I visited a book store that I just love, and I picked up a few books to help with my gardening endeavors. One of them was a total game changer for me. I thought we had our garden all planned out and we just needed the lumber to build the raised beds when we got home from vacation. (Not to mention the compost pile, seeds, seedlings, SOIL!) The book is Starter Vegetable Gardens by Barbara Pleasant and she refers to the "easy-care bag garden." In it, she explains how to start your garden by just growing your herbs and vegetables in the bag the soil came in. What? Yep. I was blown away, made my shopping list, and N and I headed to the store for 12 bags of organic soil. This weekend, we plant seeds! It's May, but we still have time. And I promise there will be pictures of small children with small garden tools.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Garden of OZ

That’s what I wanted to call my blog. O is my daughter’s first initial, and Z my son’s. I’m so clever! After a week of horrible ideas, I had a winner. So I Googled it and it was taken. I couldn’t even be mad about it because it was a pretty informative site, actually. But, full disclosure, I was still pretty freakin’ mad. It took me a few weeks to even muster up the strength to try thinking of another name. After I finally came up with another amazing one (Attainable Sustainable…brilliant!!) and found that it was also taken, I am finally here. Aiming for Sustaining. Because you know what? I won’t be perfect. I’ll eat at Subway every once in a while and buy strawberries from out of state because I’m hungry and they’re on sale for $1.99. But I will take it one step at a time and will chronicle the entire journey so that you may share in my triumphs and learn from (and laugh at) my mistakes.